Patterico's Pontifications

9/19/2008

Why This Morning’s L.A. Times Story on the “Road to Nowhere” Was So Irresponsible

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:42 pm



There’s a lot of good discussion in the comments to my post this morning about the L.A. Times‘s irresponsible story about Sarah Palin’s alleged “Road to Nowhere.” The comments are an interesting read, with varying viewpoints and links, all of which I commend to you.

Some of you argued that Sarah Palin’s defense — that the road may lead to improved ferry service or lower-cost bridges — is clearly bogus, and therefore it’s okay for the paper to bury that defense in paragraph 31 of a 33-paragraph story.

Your comments regarding the viability of the bridge are interesting, and merit further analysis.

Too bad the L.A. Times didn’t bother, since that was the central question in the story.

Let me quote former L.A. Times reporter Roy Rivenburg, who left this comment:

As a former L.A. Times journalist and as a reader, I have a hard time understanding why Palin’s side was buried near the end of the story.

Once the basic accusation is laid out, the obvious question is: “How does Palin justify the road?” But we don’t find out until the third to last paragraph. And even then, we’re not given enough info to judge whether her defense is valid. e.g., We see a map that shows an existing ferry line, but we aren’t told whether that line could be expanded. If it can, then one of Palin’s arguments for the road is clearly bogus.

I agree with journalist Rip Rense’s comment that this is a legitimate news story, but I disagree that Palin’s explanation is “incidental.” It’s actually central to the story and should’ve been dissected at length.

This is the point. You folks are arguing the merits of the road in a vacuum, because the paper didn’t give you any facts about the central question: does Palin’s defense have merit or not? Instead, the paper simply assumes away the defense throughout virtually the entire story, and mentions it almost as an afterthought, at almost the very end of the piece.

This is completely irresponsible journalism, regardless of the merits of Palin’s defense.

One other point from the comments:

This Gravina Access Highway project, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation, was contracted out at a cost of $25.7 miilion on December 1, 2006.

Palin took office on December 4, 2006.

In other words, the road was contracted out before Sarah Palin became Governor. She would have to breach a contract to kill the road project.

Why wasn’t that mentioned in the story?

79 Responses to “Why This Morning’s L.A. Times Story on the “Road to Nowhere” Was So Irresponsible”

  1. Thanks for the update, Pat.

    The paper should’ve used the DOT chart, to show readers what the plans were:
    http://dot.alaska.gov/stwdplng/projectinfo/ser/Gravina/images/alternative_11x17_v4.pdf

    Unless a massive update has been made, the LA Times was right with its story placement and you are wrong, Pat.

    I’m sorry, but your journalist friend should know better…a newspaper, or any journalistic outfit, shouldn’t have to give equal weight to both sides’ arguments, if one side is clearly superfluous. Is that the case here? Who knows…maybe Palin’s spokespeople, or perhaps she herself, could actually comment on these issues.

    The Times mistake was not making it clear that the ferries would not connect to the tail end of that road…who the hell would drive 3 miles south of civilization to use a ferry when ferry service exists at the airport?

    Shodo (dbfcb4)

  2. oh but you’re right, the fact that the road was contracted by her predecessor should have been made.

    From here, from Alaska DOT’s spokesman:
    http://www.propublica.org/feature/palin-admin-oversaw-26-million-road-to-nowhere-917/

    Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) awarded a contract to build the road on Dec. 1, 2006, three days before Palin took office.

    Palin could have canceled the contract upon taking office. The governor has that power, said Roger Wetherell, spokesman for Alaska’s DOT, and Federal Highway Administration spokesman Doug Hecox said that he could think of “a number of examples” of states canceling projects begun by a previous governor’s administration.

    Moreover, the fact that the funds had been earmarked for that purpose doesn’t mean that the state is forced to use them, Hecox said. The state could opt not to use the money, and Congress has the power to send it to other federal needs.

    Alaska has so far used a total of about $41 million in federal funds for the road and related projects, Hecox said.

    Shodo (dbfcb4)

  3. Although Palin has not cancelled work on the Gravina Island road, she did cancel an $18.6 million contract issued by Murkowski for a gravel “pioneer road” that was to be the precursor of the Juneau highway.

    So we know she can cancel contracts.

    You now have to explain what’s so special about this other contract for the road to nowhere that it couldn’t be canceled. (bracketing the highly plausible likelihood that she only carried on with it because the funds were earmarked, and cancellation would’ve meant having to back away from the federal funds trough)

    jpe (bd88bc)

  4. “…The state could opt not to use the money, and Congress has the power to send it to other federal needs…”
    Comment by Shodo — 9/19/2008 @ 5:59 pm

    This actually confirms “use it, or lose it”.
    “Other federal needs” does not neccessarily mean projects within AK. The money goes back to Congress for re-appropriation as the Congress sees fit, when it sees fit.

    Did anyone ask Wetherell about the cost of cancellation?
    I thought not.

    Another Drew (909672)

  5. Another Drew> Yes, I would like to see a clarification on that point, how much a breach of contract would cost…On good faith, I’d have to think that it would not be substantial, considering the hubub raised back then by governmental watchdogs…and the lack of a response on that – two years counting – by the Palin admin.

    As far as “use it or lose it”…isn’t that besides the point, now that Palin has campaigned on being a radical earmark reformer? You really think the “Well, if we didn’t waste the 26 million, they would’ve given it to another state!” excuse is going to fly?

    Shodo (dbfcb4)

  6. (I’ll note that I agree enthusiastically with Patterico’s underlying concern, which is that newspapers avoid discussing merits at all costs. I’ve taken to reading articles backwards for the reason he indicates: newspapers tend to bury discussion of merits, when included at all, at the end of the article as if it were some kind of afterthought.)

    jpe (bd88bc)

  7. Comment by Shodo — 9/19/2008 @ 6:13 pm

    What in Gov. Palin’s rhetoric defines her as a “radical” re earmark reform?
    All I have seen is that she said that since the consensus in Congress was anti-BTN, she decided not to press the issue; and, that she thought that AK had become too comfortable with earmark money, and needed to learn to better stand on their own two feet.

    If anyone is a “radical” on this it would be John McCain, in that he wants to eliminate earmarks completely. That is an earthquake on Capitol Hill.

    Another Drew (909672)

  8. The Times mistake was not making it clear that the ferries would not connect to the tail end of that road…who the hell would drive 3 miles south of civilization to use a ferry when ferry service exists at the airport?

    Comment by Shodo

    Well, the residents of Seattle drive more than three miles to use the auto ferry to Vashon Island but can take the walk-on ferry from downtown. I don’t think you or I know enough to decide this one but you assume facts not in evidence. The Times could have explained the alternatives but chose not to.

    Mike K (b74f82)

  9. Why wasn’t that mentioned in the story?

    That’s a rhetorical question, right?

    Charlie (Colorado) (915e8a)

  10. Why wasn’t that mentioned in the story?

    Possible Answer: The LAT is looking for a government bailout and publishing crappy work will accelerate their bailout.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  11. This isn’t a case of “irresponsible journalism”.

    This is a case of malicious, deliberately deceptive partisan journalism in the service of a political cause.

    I think the worth of that cause can be judged by the ethics of its supporters in the media.

    Evil Pundit (843b74)

  12. #6 (I’ll note that I agree enthusiastically with Patterico’s underlying concern, which is that newspapers avoid discussing merits at all costs. I’ve taken to reading articles backwards for the reason he indicates: newspapers tend to bury discussion of merits, when included at all, at the end of the article as if it were some kind of afterthought.)
    Comment by jpe — 9/19/2008 @ 6:14 pm

    Thank you jpe for your contribution of intellectual honesty.

    From #1

    a newspaper, or any journalistic outfit, shouldn’t have to give equal weight to both sides’ arguments, if one side is clearly superfluous. Is that the case here? Who knows

    Being trained in the physical and biological sciences, with bits of instruction in written and oral communication, etc., on the side, I am accustomed to the idea that one first gathers facts to demonstrate something is superfluous, rather than simply claiming it. I doubt Patterico has tried to approach the bench saying, “Your honor, whether the defendant can claim an alibi or not is superfluous!”

    It seems that many professional journalists and their editors routinely produce the kind of articles that my high school teachers would have torn apart if the task was to be objective and truthful; so it is what journalists and editors should or shouldn’t do that seems superfluous, as they’ll do as they please.

    I already know the McCain-Palin ticket is flawed, Sen. McCain has been (in my opinion) disingenuous in the way he claimed to be a “solid conservative” in the primaries and then focusing on his “maverickness” once the nomination was secure. And that is just a start.

    I have not seen anyone deny that she cut significantly the number and monetary amount of “earmarks”. I have seen a list of the requested “earmarks” and many are for programs that are required by federal law. In addition, I am wondering what makes an “earmark” (bad, bad) and what counts as an allocation/appropriation. (ok, ok)

    It is true that saying, “Your candidate is worse than my candidate, na-na-na…” is not necessarily very commendable, but I would like to see 1/10th of the effort that has gone into destroying Palin put into examining Sen. Obama. Talk about “not being vetted”, Obama should not have been a serious presidential candidate based on his inexperience, OR his association with Rev. Wright, OR his association with Bill Ayers, OR his association with Tony Rezko.

    Going back to the article that this post is about, I am not convinced that enough serious work went into examining and clarifying all of the facts for it to have any effect on my thinking. The article has all of the sophistication of, “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  13. What in Gov. Palin’s rhetoric defines her as a “radical” re earmark reform?
    All I have seen is that she said that since the consensus in Congress was anti-BTN, she decided not to press the issue; and, that she thought that AK had become too comfortable with earmark money, and needed to learn to better stand on their own two feet.

    A governor voluntarily NOT taking money from the Federal Government is radical indeed!

    Alaska has just as many Senators as California. Their votes count just as much. So when it comes to earmarks, Alaska gets to punch waaay above its weight, population-wise. A governor who chooses to forgo that advantage is something special.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  14. BILL AYERS. BERNADINE DORHN. TOM AYERS.

    THE SECRET TO BARACK OBAMA’S SUCCESS. http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.usa/browse_thread/thread/9cc95e073c84325a

    This is the real story, not some road project in Alaska.

    Joe (8102a5)

  15. I have been following both threads with bemusement. Why do we need to defend this road? Can someone please explain to me why roads are a bad thing? That making it easier for Americans to get from one part of America to another is a bad thing. And what is this “nowhere” thing? Just when did some part of America, that our predecessors sweated and bled for, become “nowhere”?

    nk (189a81)

  16. Comment by Daryl Herbert — 9/19/2008 @ 7:13 pm

    I don’t believe that Gov. Palin ever gave any money back to Congress – that would be violating her fiduciary responsibility to her constituents.
    However, I do believe that she asked the two Senators, and AK’s lone Congressman, to pare back their earmark requests to a smaller number matching her budget priorities.
    The entire earmark process is clothed in heavy, cloaking material to mask it from the voters, except those earmarks that are identified by their individual patrons for their own political aggrandizement.
    And, thanks to the Federal Republic established under the Constitution, states such as AK, DE, VT, WY, MT get equal representation to the heavy hitters like CA, TX, FL, NY, IL, etc., in the U.S. Senate, and don’t get ram-rodded just because they’re small in population.

    Another Drew (909672)

  17. Just when did some part of America, that our predecessors sweated and bled for, become “nowhere”?

    I almost fell over just now from the gust created by you swinging and missing so hard.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  18. Missing what? Libertarian assholism that thinks we should live like the Bushmen in the Kalahari or liberal assholism that thinks that the only good tax-dollars are tax-dollars for welfare?

    nk (189a81)

  19. To call that piece “irresponsible journalism” elevates it to a place it does not deserve. Its a campaign ad for the writer’s political party.

    That little dung beetle is no more a journalist than I am an astronaut.

    ccoffer (dd67df)

  20. Shodo, I think what you fail to accept is that the paper writes an article of information, puts it on the front page, and then doesn’t tell “information” but gives “opinion,” saving the “information” for a partial reconing at the end of the article.

    The MSM bills itself as unbias, yet, they don’t tell information in their information articles, but give opinion/incomplete info, and then tells us on the opinion page why their incomplete info is the right thing….

    It’s not a newspaper anymore, it’s just an opinion journal….

    reff (539a9d)

  21. Anybody ever been to Gravina Island? Or near Gravina Island? Or even know where it is?

    Take a look at Google Maps and zoom in. There is a narrow passage between the city of Ketchikan and Gravina Island (I’d estimate between a quarter and a half mile across the Tongass Narrows between the city and the airport). It’s not exactly “nowhere.” There are only 50 people living on the island. There are no services (outside the airport) — water, sewage, electric, etc. To get to town, you either take the ferry or use a your own boat. Everything has to be brought back and forth by boat. Think that might be one reason there aren’t that many folks living there?

    If there was a bridge, the island would be more readily accessable, reason would exist to provide services as more people would want to live there. Something called “growth” would occur. In other words, the “bridge to nowhere” would have quickly become the “bridge to somewhere”.

    No, I’m not supporting building the bridge (or not building it for that matter). What I’m saying is that there was some logic behind the idea of a bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island. I have never seen anybody sit down and actually look at the place. I saw it this summer while on a cruise to Alaska. But even then, I didn’t realize that all the hoopla about the bridge was actually talking about a place I was looking at. I googled this just a few days ago for the first time. I’ll bet that one of these days, there will be a bridge there. It makes too much sense not to build one. But it would be expensive. No doubt of that. If Ted Stevens had tried to get the bridge into a transportation bill and get the money for it in the normal manner, rather than through an earmark, they’d be building the bridge right now. The culprit here is the earmark process, not the bridge itself.

    Bill M (5e9a70)

  22. The culprit here is the earmark process, not the bridge itself.

    Agreed.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  23. Thank you, Bill M. I live in a village that was just a wide spot in the right of way for the Burlinton-Santa Fe railroad. Now it has a population of almost 9,000. The railway (road) made it possible.

    nk (189a81)

  24. I’m voting for McCain/Palin.

    Drop this frickin X-To-Nowhere issue. Drop it. We can’t possibly reverse the damage we’ve sustained on this ONE STUPID frickin issue. The excuses are too complex, and the issue is too trivial in the face of important new developments. Obama walked away from Rev Wright with ZERO damage; we can walk away from this STUPID X-To-Nowhere point with little damage.

    gp (78ea4b)

  25. I do not want to promote either Bill Maher or Andrew Sullivan now, for obvious reasons. But Real Time was really strange tonight in a strangely positive way. In response idiotic socialist crap from some chick named Naomi Klein–Andrew Sullivan almost became a conservative again. Then Sully switched back with a McCain Palin attack. Then Maher went on a rant about religion. Then Sully switched back again. It was like watching a gay version of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde or the Hulk–except Sully switched back and forth between leftist and conservative.

    But, know hope.

    The panelists all acknowledged that if Obama is not leading by 5-7% by November 4, he will lose. They said it was racism, but could it possibly be policy-ism? Plus they don’t know how to deal with it, they all had a different attack plan and they all contradicted each other. They are scared. McCain and Palin really have them shaken. I liked that part.

    Joe (8102a5)

  26. Bill M–

    The problem with the bridge to no where is it is really the bridge to benefit the lucky few. Those 50 property owners clean up. And there are a few politically tied in speculators among them who were promoting the deal.

    So you are right, it is earmarks. But if it made economic sense to build the bridge, they would build the bridge. They would not wait for the feds to fund it.

    Joe (8102a5)

  27. I suppose one reason that Alaskan’s feel that they have some claim on the earmark process is that 65% of the state is under the control of the Federal Government – a property owner who pays no taxes. Could your local community survive if 65% of the property in town paid no property tax into the local coffers?
    So, from their persprective, it isn’t asking the Feds to build it, they just want the Feds to “pay their fair share”.
    It is a difficult, and complicated situation, and we don’t live there.

    Another Drew (909672)

  28. “Obama walked away from Rev Wright with ZERO damage”

    I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Rev. Wright as an issue this year.

    daleyrocks (faf71b)

  29. A newspaper, or any journalistic outfit, shouldn’t have to give equal weight to both sides’ arguments, if one side is clearly superfluous. Is that the case here? Who knows?

    Shodo (#1), I never said anything about giving equal weight if one side is bogus. I said the central question of the article is why didn’t Palin kill the road when she killed the bridge. That requires including her explanation high up, and then debating the merits of her rationale.

    This article does neither. I don’t know the back story on how the article was assembled (although the writer is quite talented), but on the surface it appears flawed. If Palin’s rationale for the road doesn’t hold up, show why it doesn’t hold up. Don’t just bury her explanation and give readers no way to evaluate its veracity.

    On a lighter note (shameless plug ahead), check out the Palin satire at http://www.NotTheLATimes.com.

    Roy Rivenburg (ae5405)

  30. Roy…
    Took the link…
    You are one sick puppy!

    Another Drew (909672)

  31. Final questions:

    In the event that a Gravina Island Bridge (in whatever form) is ever built, wouldn’t an access road, allowing the movement of construction equipment and supplies to the site, be required? Would such a road resemble the Gravina Island Highway?

    As the State of Alaska comes into greatly increased oil and gas royalties, wouldn’t Alaska eventually have the money to build this bridge on their own dime? Palin has talked about re-visiting this project in the future.

    Any chance that Alaska is now deliberately doing this project in phases, as funding, and politics, allows?

    Just askin’

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  32. How . . . DARE you introduce logic and reasonableness into a discussion that lives and breathes on knee-jerk reactions and bellicose pronouncements of dogma?

    Icy Truth (0b0c9a)

  33. “I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Rev. Wright as an issue this year.’

    The Rev Wright/TUCC issue is dead and buried. It’s pining for the fjords. It’s frickin _over_!

    So is the X_To_Frickin_Nowhere! It’s going “nowhere.” Move on to something else!

    Here’s an idea: How about addressing the biggest global financial crisis since the Panic of 1907? We are well and truly f*cked.

    gp (78ea4b)

  34. How about addressing the biggest global financial crisis since the Panic of 1907?

    Keep up with the news.
    Obama and his hundreds of advisers looked into the financial abyss, froze and decided to punt to Bush.
    Not exactly the leadership America needs.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  35. How about addressing the biggest global financial crisis since the Panic of 1907?

    — Because it’s about as much fun as a dead parrot.

    Icy Truth (f6198c)

  36. 33, 34 – I guess you guys have no net worth, otherwise you might be just a little bit concerned about something other than this asinine presidential horserace. Neither McCain nor BHO have the chops to handle this crisis. Jockeying for votes, they are going to make stupid decisions, and stupider promises.

    33 – Yes, I’m voting for McCain (against BHO,) for all the frickin good it’s going to do us.

    gp (78ea4b)

  37. It is almost uncanny that my Uncle, a thoughtful man, just sent me a link this a.m. w/o comment. It was to Gerard Vanderleun’s “No More Letters To The Editor” from ’05. I believe it is time for all to read or reread this again. As Conservatives we instinctively distaste 3rd party boycotts, but if you feel strongly enough that a media outlet is being dishonest to sway an election, you can best make a difference by expressing your disgust and revulsion to the underwriters themselves. Please take a look.
    No More Letters To The Editor

    rhodeymark (6231e5)

  38. gp #35 – My only hope is that McCain still has enough kickass in him that when he takes office he can rain some fire down. He seems to have mellowed. Bush threw a flag in ’03, McCain tried to warn in ’05 and wanted legislation. I feel for you if you are significantly at risk, it is more than unsettling – but what is there left for us to argue at this point? The taxpayers were set up in the ’90s, the chickens have come home to roost. What I find laughable and revealing at this point, is even with a trillion dollar party, a lot of the folks invited for the first time are still walking away with little that they didn’t come with.

    “You squeezed almost a half mil out of your modest little home, what did you do with the money?”
    “Oh, paid off some credit cards, you know, this and that, I’m not really sure where it all went.”

    Way to go Clinton, way to go Barney… way to go Chicago.

    rhodeymark (6231e5)

  39. One likely reason for not cancelling it is that the Feds were paying for the road, while contract termination for convenience would have resulted in serious money due the contractor by the State, as the Feds would likely not pay for the costs of breaching the contract. Another reason is that the road opens up more of the island to deveopment. Regardless, as others have said, this is too complicated to explain and justify, and right now, it’s a loser issue.

    Doug in Fremont, CA (bb530f)

  40. jpe,

    So we know she can cancel contracts.

    Not without looking at the contract we don’t.

    You now have to explain what’s so special about this other contract for the road to nowhere that it couldn’t be canceled.

    Clearly, the “pioneer road” contract had an out clause of some sort. Otherwise, the contractors would be suing. Do we know what that was? Do we know if there was a similar provision in Gravina Island Highway contract? No, we don’t, because we haven’t been told that by those who purport to be reporting on these contracts.

    Pablo (99243e)

  41. #35 –

    Yes, I’m voting for McCain (against BHO,) for all the frickin good it’s going to do us.
    — And that’s exactly why you should: for the good that it IS going to do us.

    I guess you guys have no net worth, otherwise you might be just a little bit concerned about something other than this asinine presidential horserace.
    — I have a 401K that I watch go up and down like a yo-yo on a daily basis. “Yeah, it’s a crummy system but what’re you gonna do?” – Homer Simpson
    I also try to stick to the topic of the thread I’m in, or at least stay in the ballpark, subject-wise.

    Neither McCain nor BHO have the chops to handle this crisis.
    — We shall see. There is NO alternative, btw; one of those two will have to handle the crisis as best he can.

    Jockeying for votes, they are going to make stupid decisions, and stupider promises.
    — That may be the case, but you know how you react to that? Do like Obama did in response to criticism during the primaries: brush off your shoulder in a nonchalant manner and say “It ain’t nothin’ but a thing.” Save your worrying for what they will or won’t do in office.

    Icy Truth (fbc22c)

  42. Regardless, as others have said, this is too complicated to explain and justify, and right now, it’s a loser issue.

    Certainly it’s impossible without all the pertinent information, and we have not been provided with enough to make an informed judgment.

    This is a front page story? Where is the story on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the $150 million for school improvement that was funneled to radical Ayers cronies and did nothing to improve schools? Search the dog trainer and you’ll find passing mention of WGN and Stanley Kurtz being strongarmed on its blogs. If there’s any actual reporting on the CAC in the actual paper, I can’t find it.

    Pablo (99243e)

  43. Yes, I would like to see a clarification on that point, how much a breach of contract would cost…

    Under standard contract law, the state of AK probably has a defense of frustration. eg, the contract had a certain purpose (linking up to the bridge), and that purpose is now not possible.

    That said, I’m sure the form contracts that AK uses allow for some kind of cancellation on short notice. Even if they don’t, though, cancellation shouldn’t cost a lot or anything.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  44. Where is the story on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the $150 million for school improvement that was funneled to radical Ayers cronies and did nothing to improve schools?

    That’s not news; it’s a rightwing fever dream.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  45. That’s because people such as yourself are willfully ignorant of what’s been been going on in my neighborhood over the past decade. But please don’t allow it to trouble you, since cognitive dissonance must be a difficult process for you to undergo – hurts your little head too much.

    And if this is indeed a “rightwing fever dream,” please tell us why Obama and Axelrod’s digital brownshirts attempted to shut down free speech on the public airwaves regarding a legitimate topic of discussion?

    (crickets chirping)

    Try to actually read about the issue before making Libtardy allegations.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  46. My apologies for ever so slightly OT comments:

    If Ted Stevens had tried to get the bridge into a transportation bill and get the money for it in the normal manner, rather than through an earmark, they’d be building the bridge right now. The culprit here is the earmark process, not the bridge itself.

    This is the entire essence of John McCain’s attitude toward earmarks. The point is not that these projects are all bad or wasteful but that they are not “vetted” through the normal political process. McCain doesn’t have a problem with the funding, per se, but with the “under the radar” process by which these funds make it into legislation which is often about some other problem entirely.

    As for the BTN, Gravina Island is the location of Ketchican’s airport. There is no suitable and safe location on Ketchican’s side of the river for this airport due to mountainous terrain. Hence, the point is not that only 50 people live on the island but that the island (airport) serves several thousand residents of Ketchican as well. This is actually a “bridge to everywhere” since it would have serviced the airport. People who have not been to or lived in Alaska typically just don’t understand the absolute necessity of air transportation in this mountainous state, larger than Texas and California combined.

    Having said that, the point remains that if a bridge should be built to Gravina Island that has some significant benefit to the citizens of the area then it should be funded through the normal appropriations process in the full light of day, not through an earmark on the level of funding a rock and roll museum or bicycle paths.

    Further, the idea that all local projects should be funded locally applies nowhere in the country. For example, here in Northern VA we are in the process of completing a new bridge over the Potomic on I-495 and a new Metro line out to Dulles airport, both of which are funded at 50% or more by federal funding, and as far as I know, both of which have been allocated through normal, fully debated, appropriations.

    Harry Arthur (b34c21)

  47. That’s not news; it’s a rightwing fever dream …

    Why not?

    Harry Arthur (b34c21)

  48. Where is the story on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the $150 million for school improvement that was funneled to radical Ayers cronies and did nothing to improve schools?

    That’s not news; it’s a rightwing fever dream.

    Comment by jpe — 9/20/2008 @ 7:10 am

    Thank you for clarifying your position, jpe, if further clarification was needed. Tylenol or ibuprofen will not make the records of the Annenberg Challenge go away.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  49. The Rev Wright/TUCC issue is dead and buried. It’s pining for the fjords. It’s frickin _over_!

    Say what?

    http://hotair.com/archives/2008/09/19/its-on-mccain-camp-hints-theyre-ready-to-hit-obama-on-wright/

    This is only the beginning – to act like McCain’s not supposed to use this type of damaging material shows your cluelessness on this issue, or campaigning in general.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  50. Tylenol or ibuprofen will not make the records of the Annenberg Challenge go away.

    But if they wish, hope and pray it will, won’t it? That’s about the extent of the other side’s arguments over this issue. Nothing to see here, old news – but if anyone attempts to discuss it, silence them by any means necessary!

    Dmac (e639cc)

  51. Then there’s Obama’s record on equal pay within his own Senate office http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/378772_murdockonline12.html The hypocrisy never ends.

    Icy Truth (fbc22c)

  52. Harry’s dead on in his 7:40 AM comment.

    Ketchikan had over 800,000 visitors come in on cruise ships in 2006. That’s about 5000 cruisers a day during the five months the ships run. These cruisers dropped $162 million in Ketchikan; that’s $159 a head.

    http://www.adn.com/money/industries/tourism/story/210986.html

    On pretty much any Alaskan cruise you spend a day and a half traversing the West Coast of Canada. Ketchikan is your first or last stop.

    A sound transportation method from Gravina to Ketchikan would give cruise lines the option of starting or ending their Alaskan cruises in Alaska. It’d bring more money into the state both from tourists and from the infrastructure to support the increased boat and airline traffic.

    The bridge was not to “Nowhere,” but rather to the gatewaty of Alaska. This is why you will can find pictures of Palin wearing a “Nowhere, Alaska” T-shirt.

    MartyH (268543)

  53. “That said, I’m sure the form contracts that AK uses allow for some kind of cancellation on short notice. Even if they don’t, though, cancellation shouldn’t cost a lot or anything.”

    jpe – I glad for your confidence jpe. It stems from what exactly, your vast experience letting civil engineering projects, construction projects, hope, change, pure partisanship for Obama, or other factors?

    daleyrocks (faf71b)

  54. Thanks Harry, ya got a way wit wourds.

    Ropelight (b9f273)

  55. daleyrocks: first, I found other AK DOT procurement contracts that allow the state to cancel w/ 30 days at the state’s convenience. It’d be pretty stupid if Palin didn’t have that in this contract (accordingly, we can’t be sure she had that clause in there).

    Also, the lack of large damages stems from basic contract law. They’d have to pay for work done and nothing else. The contractor couldn’t compel payment on the entire thing, and could only get reliance damages and restitution for work actually completed.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  56. “It’d be pretty stupid if Palin didn’t have that in this contract (accordingly, we can’t be sure she had that clause in there).”

    Palin didn’t let the contract; her predecessor, Murkowski did. “She” had nothing to do with the contracting scenario that you describe.

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  57. “The bridge was not to “Nowhere,” but rather to the gatewaty of Alaska.”

    Bingo.

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  58. Palin didn’t let the contract; her predecessor, Murkowski did.

    Good catch. Doesn’t change the analysis, but I can appreciate nitpicking, as a practitioner of nitpickery myself.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  59. “…Doesn’t change the analysis, but I can appreciate nitpicking…”

    Unless we change the discussion to something like: Why didn’t Palin cancel the contract that her predecessor signed?, I believe this to be a substantive point.

    Any “analysis” also has to acknowledge, as a primary fact, the “use or lose” nature of the funds that are paying for the road. Also remember that it is not an established fact that a bridge will not be built at the access road terminus.

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  60. That’s not news; it’s a rightwing fever dream.

    Then why did it require not one but TWO Important Brownshirt Action Wire Attack Alerts, directly from the Obama campaign? Why didn’t Obama just send sdomeone from the campaign to rebut Kurtz on WGN, as he was invited by WGN to do? Why did his legions of brownshirts have no lies to point out when they were instructed to smear Kurtz as a liar?

    Pablo (99243e)

  61. Any “analysis” also has to acknowledge, as a primary fact, the “use or lose” nature of the funds that are paying for the road.

    That’s the obvious answer: Palin didn’t cancel the project because it was the only way to get her hands on taxpayer money.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  62. “Palin didn’t cancel the project because it was the only way to get her hands on taxpayer money.”

    Now I will nitpick.

    Alaska was already in possession of the money by the time Palin assumed office.

    Just curious, and not to justify Palin’s actions, but how often, if ever, do recipients of fed dollars ever return “use or lose” funds when there is a viable project against the money can be applied? Never? Almost never?

    What’s the standard or metric against which Palin is being compared, I mean other than the precedent of her own rhetoric?

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  63. Correction:

    …against which the money can be applied?

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  64. “I found other AK DOT procurement contracts that allow the state to cancel w/ 30 days at the state’s convenience.”

    jpe – Presumably you have samples to show us to verify this claim.

    Your claim on contract law I can somewhat understand except for potential damages to contractors for not undertaking other work they could have legitimately bid on because they thought they were committed to the road project. If they can’t work on other projects because they have workers and equipment committed to the road, aren’t they in effect damaged by the sudden cancellation of a project they had rejected other work to slot into their calenders?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  65. “Any “analysis” also has to acknowledge, as a primary fact, the “use or lose” nature of the funds that are paying for the road.”

    belloscm – I have not seen anything verifying the use or lose nature of the funds as O mentioned on the other thread. What have you got?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  66. I thought about that, too, daleyrocks, but I’m pretty sure that that type of consideration is too speculative to serve as the foundation for damages. To be on the up-and-up, I should’ve disclosed that and noted that I wasn’t 100% on that point, so good catch.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  67. Y’all don’t get it. You’re sitting here debating stuff that should have been laid out in the article. It’s the reporter’s JOB, for chrissakes.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  68. Within the original $223 million Congressional appropriation, there still existed a $35 million “earmark” which specified that these funds could only be used on the Gravina Island Bridge project. Murkowski let the contract for the access road in December ’06 using these funds.

    If the money had not been spend on the bridge project, Alaska would have had to return the earmarked dollars. Hence, “use or lose.”

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  69. jpe – You would know that if you looked at contracts for similar projects. I take it you clain about Alaskan DOT contracts is total BS then?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  70. no daley — the damages are at common law, and aren’t in the contract. Note that the contracts that I saw allowed the government to cancel, so no provisions were liquidated damages were necessary.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  71. Patterico – I think I get it. I’m just trying to reinforce it with the lefties.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  72. Patterico,

    Believe me, I do “get it.”

    Yesterday morning, after reading the article and your original post, I e-mailed the LAT reporter complaining about the lack of balance (i.e., no mention of Murkowski, contract date, embedded earmark, etc).

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  73. jpe – Did you review any for similar engineering projects? Why not share the cancellation and damages provisions with us.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  74. no daley-
    I apologize for the lack of a link to support my comments regarding the “use or lose” funds. I’ll plead laziness for the time being.

    I believe that this info came from a Boston Globe article that I had read earlier in the month. I’ve also seen similar info from other sources.

    belloscm (36d6f2)

  75. Jpe fails to reply to the comments challenging the characterization about the CAC files being a “right wing fever dream.” Like Sir Robin in The Holy Grail, “Brave Sir Robin ran away, he ran away.”

    Let’s hear your explanations, jpe – if you have any.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  76. Jpe fails to reply to the comments challenging the characterization about the CAC files being a “right wing fever dream.”

    There’s no prima facie case to be made that there was anything problematic. There’s nothing to reply to.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  77. Don’t do the lawyer schtick, please. The question put to you was the following: if your characterization is accurate, why was Obama’s campaign furiously attempting to stifle the interviews on WGN, despite refusing entreaties to appear on the same shows to refute the authors?

    Dmac (e639cc)

  78. There’s no prima facie case to be made that there was anything problematic. There’s nothing to reply to.
    Comment by jpe — 9/20/2008 @ 2:22 pm

    Contrary to statements on national TV, there is strong evidence that Sen. Obama’s relationship with Mr. Ayers goes far beyond knowing that, “he’s just a guy in the neighborhood who is a professor.”

    Was it out of humility that Sen. Obama didn’t put his role in overseeing millions of dollars of the Annenberg Challenge on his resume?

    Sitting on a board and distributing millions of dollars along with a person you later say you don’t hardly know is a bit suspicious, I’d say. Especially when that person is a domestic terrorist who should have been in the federal pen. except for errors made in collecting evidence. And before anything is said about what happened 40 years ago, the people who were murdered then are still dead, and Mr. Ayers still regrets “not having done more”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  79. “There’s no prima facie case to be made that there was anything problematic.”

    jpe – Then why the cover up, the electronic brownshirts and action alerts from the campaign to stifle discussion of the CAC.

    Obama refuses to discuss it and the media refuses to cover it. Obama certainly cited it as one of his qualifications to run against Bobby Rush for Congress in 2000. Now it’s disappeared from his resume. What happened?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)


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